For better or worse Mayweather vs. McGregor was a historic night. Many made predictions that the previous PPV buy rate record of 4.6 million made in 2015 by Mayweather vs. Pacquiao would be broken. Fans were told to order the “Money Fight” PPV early, just in case. Some people took that advice; others didn’t and waited until the event went live. Regardless of when fans ordered it, if it was through UFC Fight Pass the common result was they were in for a rough night. UFC Fight Pass crashed right as the PPV started. Screens went black and then the real fight began, with the fans.
Twenty-five minutes after the stream should have begun UFC Fight Pass released a statement on Twitter: “Due to overwhelming traffic you may be experiencing log in issues. This will be resolved shortly.”
Most people didn’t get their feed back until the main event was already in progress, or not at all. That’s if they bothered to wait around for “shortly” to occur. Hitting the refresh button over and over on their streaming devices and just seeing, “Due to the overwhelming volume of requests, we are unable to process your login request at this time,” was frustrating enough to send many people scrambling. Some people ended up leaving their fight parties or places of dwelling to find the nearest bar to catch at least the main event on time.
Some viewers weren’t lucky enough to have a local bar as an alternative. With the main event getting closer even Fight Pass realized that “shorty” wasn’t happening. Their solution was to release another statement, “Apologies for any tech difficulties logging onto UFC.TV. Please find an alternative provider here: (ShowtimeSports.com).” Did they offer any kind of financial relief after suggesting fans go order it a second time because of their broken stream? Nope. They gave no digital coupon, access code, or instructions. If fans took the route Fight Pass suggested you were now paying $99.95 twice. That’ll put a dent in the wallet.
This all brings up that special word no business wants to hear, “refund.” Viewers trapped in the digital heart of darkness all Saturday night had been repeating that word over and over again. But it fell on deaf ears. Emailing or chatting with the UFC.TV help center provided no help. The only comment people received were to email this address: UFcTVsupport@ufc.com. According to UFC.TV, put the word “REFUND” in the subject line and they will get back to you in the order that you were received. Judging by the reaction of the crash on social media, a response might take awhile. Some consumers didn’t wait for UFC.TV to respond and instantly contacted their credit card company demanding the PPV charges to be disputed because of “services not rendered.”
In all fairness, Fight Pass wasn’t malfunctioning worldwide. Some areas got the feed fine. Fight Pass wasn’t the only broadcaster to have issues that night. Showtime Sports stated, “Due to high demand, we have reports of scattered outages from various cable and satellite providers and online offerings. We will delay the start of the main event slightly to allow for systems to get on track. We do not expect a lengthy delay.” A few days later Showtime Sports was rumored to be offering a full refund if you had issues with their service.
On Tuesday UFC released a new statement via Twitter, “We always try to put on the biggest and most exciting fights. We want our fans to have the best experience when watching our events. Unfortunately, we didn’t deliver the way we wanted on Saturday because of NeuLion’s technical issues on UFC.TV. As usual, we always take care of our fans and will fix this. We have started processing refunds immediately for anyone that could not access the fight after purchase.”
– Dana White, UFC President
That sounds all well and good, right? When asking the UFC.TV help center for more details this message automatically popped up, “Any UFC.TV refund-related requests, please email: email@example.com, we will not be able to assist with refunds via live support chat — all email inquiries will be responded to as quickly as possible. We’re experiencing heavy volume today…an agent will be with you shortly…”
There’s that word again, “shortly.”
And then this response followed: “If you have emailed in previously, your response is being worked on.”
This crash has other potential business ramifications for Fight Pass. Presumably a lot of new people became Fight Pass subscribers in order to purchase the PPV. In fact they were offering a promo where a new customer ordering the PPV would get a free 30 day Fight Pass subscription. Sounds great, right? Well, during the crash as some of those custumers were demanding PPV refunds Fight Pass told them that they’d just cancel their free subscription, but no money would be returned. How is that a solution? Isn’t the goal to keep subscribers, and therefore, make money on future monthly fees and purchases? How eager are people going to be to shell over more money for future UFC PPV events? One would think that UFC would do everything possible to make sure this will never again, but is the trust with the consumer still there? Apparently millions watched the card via illegal stream. One can’t help but wonder if that number was increased after the crash.
At the beginning of this article, the goal of breaking the PPV buy rate record was mentioned. 4.6 million buys is a big number to beat. Could a massive refund request surge affect that record breaker from happening?
Personally, I couldn’t wait for Mayweather vs. McGregor. I was looking forward to seeing the whole fight card. I even ordered it early enough to get a free “May-Mac” hat. The plan was to watch it with my friends at home. I got the food and beer and we were all ready for a good time. What we got that night was a cluster that resulted in running over to a bar and paying another $90 to get in. We watched the main event in a parking lot with 60 other people, many of which were in a similar situation. On the bright side, the fight was fun and I got a free event poster from the bar. Also that “May-Mac” hat should be arriving in 10-14 business days, and it only cost me two hundred dollars.
As far as a full refund from UFC Fight Pass…I’m sure we’ll find out “shortly.”
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